New research from a collaboration between outside researchers and Meta (Facebook’s parent company) suggests that Facebook is not making Americans more partisan, contradicting past internal findings blaming the platform’s content algorithms for worsening political polarization. The studies examined the effects of Facebook’s algorithm and reshare feature during the fall of 2020 and found that they increased user engagement but did not affect people’s existing political attitudes or polarization. The results of the four studies were published Thursday in the academic publications Science and Nature. Critics, including former Facebook executive Frances Haugen, questioned the validity of the studies, while others emphasized the need for more comprehensive research on social media’s impact on politics. The role of social media in American politics has been a subject of intense debate since 2016, with liberals calling for more regulation to combat disinformation, while conservatives resist such efforts, fearing censorship.
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